Money & Business

Groups Concerned Pending Texas Bill Could Weaken LGBTQ Protections

By / Mar 18, 2019 (TriciaDaniel/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

A coalition of business groups and convention and tourism leaders, which includes ASAE, is expressing concern that a pending bill in the Texas Legislature could weaken protections for the state’s LGBTQ workers.

ASAE is joining a coalition of business and tourism groups in voicing concern that a pending bill in the Texas Legislature would weaken protections for LGBTQ workers in the state.

“ASAE is opposed to legislation that would harm Texas’s reputation as a welcoming state. Any legislation that would weaken protections for LGBTQ workers would have severe economic consequences in the form of lost jobs, investments and event bookings throughout the state,” said ASAE President and CEO John H. Graham IV, FASAE, CAE, in a statement to Associations Now. “ASAE is committed to working with our members and meetings industry partners in Texas to address legislators’ concerns while keeping Texas open and accessible for all.”

At issue is a proposed bill (Senate Bill 15) that would prohibit cities from requiring private companies to offer paid sick leave to their employees. The bill was supported by a lot of businesses until a recent rewrite of the bill stripped language that explicitly said the proposed state law would not supersede local nondiscrimination ordinances.

Unlike 21 other states and the District of Columbia, Texas employment discrimination laws don’t explicitly protect LGBTQ workers. But six major Texas cities—Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Plano and San Antonio—have their own nondiscrimination protections in place. LGBTQ advocates are concerned that SB15 could subject some Texans to discriminatory employment practices.

Texas lawmakers had largely steered clear of contentious social issues this session after debating a highly controversial “bathroom bill” two years ago. That bill was opposed by ASAE and many other business groups because it would have invalidated public accommodation rights for LGBTQ Texans. The bill failed to pass during the 2017 legislative session and during a special summer session.

ASAE has joined Texas Welcomes All, a coalition of business groups and convention and tourism leaders, in opposing SB15 as worded. The bill has been advanced by the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee and is now eligible to be taken up by the full Senate.

Chris Vest, CAE

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